Why The CareerBuilder Rebrand Isn’t Working

As you probably know, we’re big advocates of rebranding. We rebrand and create new brands for staffing companies all the time, and see the tremendous impact it can have on a business.

Often it’s necessary for companies to rebrand because when the company started, budgets were limited and the founders opted not to spend or focus much on their brand. When this happens, a few years down the road, a rebrand becomes absolutely critical.

However, sometimes companies rebrand when they don’t need to — or in fact, shouldn’t. And sometimes when companies rebrand, they end up making their brand worse than it was before. Unfortunately, CareerBuilder is in both of these camps with their new brand.

Let me first start by saying this commentary is meant to comment on design work only. We’re honest people so, from our perspective, having honest conversations about things like this only helps all of us in the industry. But please don’t mistake any of this commentary as being a slam on any of CareerBuilder’s products or services, or their company as a whole. I’m simply commenting on their new rebrand and why it doesn’t work.

In short: This rebrand doesn’t work. In addition, I’d suggest it was also unnecessary. Here’s why…

Why rebrand at all?
Born in the initial internet boom of the mid ’90s, CareerBuilder has one of the largest and most well known online job board sites in the U.S. In 2007, they created one of the most memorable ads ever with their ‘Monkey Business’ ad.  By some, this ad is even considered one of the best SuperBowl Ads of all time. They’ve even refreshed the ad a few times since, furthering CareerBuilder’s brand recognition.

Because of all this, it’s easy to suggest CareerBuilder had one of the most recognizable brands in the U.S.

Screenshot 2015-10-06 14.36.57

That said, it’s also easy to suggest there’s nothing very interesting or exciting about their old brand. Pretty basic: it’s really just a font and no brand mark to go with it. So, perhaps that’s what sparked the desire for a new brand. People often want brand marks, whether they need them or not, and it’s reasonable for people to want something new. That all makes sense at some level. But if you’re going to update a brand with so much recognition, you should do so with a lot of thought and a bit of caution.

One recommendation I’d make would be to outsource the effort to a design agency. Obviously I might sound biased in saying that. But having an internal person (like CareerBuilder did) work on such an important project is most likely going to make success difficult due to internal politics, other work conflicts and just being ‘in the box’ if you will of how the company thinks. Going outside would almost definitely produce a better result.

Regardless, the decision was made to rebrand and to do so in-house. So, let’s look at why the final brand update just doesn’t work. Here it is:

Screenshot 2015-10-06 14.43.02

1/ It’s generic.
There’s nothing that’s memorable about this new brand either. It looks a lot like an outdated corporate logo from the ’90s. In fact, when I first saw it I wondered if this was their original logo and they were doing some “20 years in business” retro thing.

2/ Too many elements.
We recommend keeping logo elements to 2 or 3 — maybe 4. Otherwise, it turns into an infographic, not a logo. An element is considered color, fonts, icons, marks, tag lines, etc. This logo has 2 different fonts, a C brand mark, a solid block background, 4 overall colors, broken color blocks and a swooshy fan thing for a total of 10 elements. It’s too busy and too distracting.

3/ The fonts could be better.
I’ll accept that font preference can be somewhat subjective. However, the CAREER font has an unnecessary and inconsistent retro feel to it. Nothing else about CareerBuilder has an art-deco or retro feel like these fonts suggest. In addition, the use of a second font (that is inconsistent with the first) gives the text a very jarring look.

Worse though, the Es in the two words don’t match. The logo contains 3 Es total and they’re very prominent in the word marks. The Es in “Career” are very distinct in their style. So, to have the E in “BUILDER” not match in style is very odd and quite simply — a mistake.

4/ The colors are dated.
I’ll also admit color preference can be subjective. But there are some basic color rules that apply universally in fashion, interior design, etc. Using colors that are slightly off the primary spectrum is odd. But then trying to match them to a navy blue background and font is definitely breaking some color rules.

5/ Why the swooshy fan things?
Why add the swooshy fan things into the colors on the C? These don’t feel relevant and simply serve to further clutter the logo.

6/ You don’t turn a logo sideways.
From my perspective, the worst thing about the logo is the suggestion that turing it sideways can also represent their other business line — Talent Stream Technologies. This is where things go completely off the rails.

Screenshot 2015-10-06 14.52.05

First, you don’t turn a logo sideways. For any reason. Ever. Especially not because you’re trying to make it represent another business line. Just make a new logo. Or, better yet, make a logo that will work for both business lines simply with new text or changing colors — but not by adjusting its direction.

Secondly, as if the brand couldn’t get more complicated, they’ve now applied all these complicated elements, turned the brand sideways and included the word TALENTSTREAM (one word) TECHNOLOGIES. It’s too much.

Finally, the reasoning behind turning the logo was because it made it look like a T — for TALENTSTREAM TECHNOLOGIES. If you see me at any of the upcoming staffing conferences and can convince me this looks like a T, I’ll buy you a drink. A couple maybe.

To Summarize.
I like CareerBuilder. I think they’re a great company. But this rebrand was unnecessary and I feel a mistake for them. They had a great, well-known brand that really didn’t need changing. I’d expect this from a small company but not a company with the size and clout of CareerBuilder. I’d be very curious to know how this brand was conceived, created and approved — if it was decision making by non-designers, a lack of vision, a rush job — or something else. But this rebrand simply does not work. In fact, I’d say it’s right up there with the Gap Rebrand failure.

Again, rebranding can do great things for your company and is often even necessary. But if you do decide to rebrand — do so with careful thought and strongly consider going outside your walls to let experts do the job.

 

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2 thoughts on “Why The CareerBuilder Rebrand Isn’t Working

  1. Great read, Jason. Having been a part of more than a few of these personally, it’s easy to lose focus on the basic principles that really matter in a re-brand. Your overview summarizes the important elements beautifully and succinctly.

    • Thanks Mark! Yeah, a rebrand can be tough – any creative work really. I always think though that a mess like this could be avoided if they just got outside their walls for insight and the work.

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